Here’s who can qualify for the U.S. Olympic Freeski Team this week

Here’s who can qualify for the U.S. Olympic Freeski Team this week

Photos courtesy of Monster Energy

There ain’t too much proverbial asphalt left to cover on the road to Pyeongchang; the 2018 Winter Olympic Games are now just 21 days away. Despite the fact that the Games kick off in just three weeks, the U.S. Olympic Freeski Team roster is very much up in the air. It all comes down to a weekend’s worth of competition at Mammoth Mountain, where FREESKIER will be on-site covering the final Olympic qualifiers and the much-anticipated U.S. Olympic team nomination ceremony.

Mammoth is, of course, no stranger to hosting A-grade freeskiing and snowboarding contests; Mammoth is the official training grounds for the U.S Ski and Snowboard Teams and Mammoth Mountain has supported freeskiing formally since it introduced the Mammoth Freeski Team back in 2000. Since then, Mammoth has hosted ten-plus years of Olympic qualifying events. Mammoth has served as the naming site for both the 1998 and 2014 Olympic snowboarding teams, and, as aforementioned, it will serve as the naming site of the Pyeongchang-bound freeski and snowboard squadrons. With so much on the line this weekend, we expect the competition will be nothing short of spectacular.

Between the Olympic qualifying events—which included the Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain, CA, hosted in February, 2017; the Grand Prix at Copper Mountain, in early December, 2017; the Dew Tour, also hosted in December of ’17; a Grand Prix at Snowmass, Colorado, hosted last week; and finally, the upcoming Grand Prix at Mammoth—slopestyle and halfpipe skiers must have garnered two podium finishes in order to meet the Olympic team “objective criteria.” There are a total of four positions available for each of the U.S. freeskiing halfpipe and slopestyle teams, per gender. Three spots per discipline, per gender, are typically awarded as a reflection of contest finishes, while the fourth position is decided by coaches’ discretion. In the event that three skiers do not qualify by way of podium finishes, the selection committee defers to a points system and/or discretion.

As we head into the weekend, here are a few storylines to keep in mind:

Women’s Slopestyle

At just 19 years old, Whitefish, Montana-native Maggie Voisin has qualified for her second Olympic team; she clinched the Olympic berth with a second place showing last week in Aspen. As you may recall, Voisin was forced to pull out the 2014 Games, in Sochi, due to an ankle injury; she’ll be on a redemption march heading into Mammoth and shortly thereafter, in South Korea.

Ms. Voisin competes at Snowmass, Colorado; January, 2018.

Looking to join Voisin on the U.S. Olympic squad are skiers including Julia Krass, Devin Logan (the 2014 Olympic silver medalist in slopestyle), Darian Stevens, Taylor Lundquist and Caroline Claire. Alas, none of these women are able to meet the objective criteria this weekend; yet, up to three may be added to the roster based on coaches’ discretion.

Points standings after 4 of 5 qualifying events:

1. Maggie Voisin, 180** (Qualified for Pyeongchang)
2. Devin Logan, 90
3. Darian Stevens, 81
4. Julia Krass, 72
5. Taylor Lundquist, 65
6. Caroline Claire, 52
**Has fulfilled minimum criteria (two podium finishes)
*Has one podium finish

Men’s Slopestyle

Mammoth will host two selection events for men’s slopestyle this weekend, providing plenty of opportunity for the U.S. skiers to have success.

Indiana boy Nick Goepper has fulfilled the objective criteria for Olympic qualification with two silver medal showings; barring any out-of-the-ordinary happenings this weekend, he is expected to punch his ticket to Pyeongchang. A victory for Goepper at Mammoth would secure his Olympic spot. He can also earn his spot on the U.S. Team if fewer than four skiers meet the objective criteria. Following closely on his tail is Telluride’s Gus Kenworthy, who put himself in prime position to make the Olympic slopestyle squadron with a victory at the recent Grand Prix, at Snowmass. A podium finish this weekend will secure him an Olympic berth.

Gus Kenworthy competes at Snowmass, Colorado; January, 2018.

McRae Williams, Quinn Wolferman, Willie Borm and Alex Hall will also be gunning for a spot.

Points standings after 3 of 5 qualifying events:

1. Nick Goepper, 160**
2. Gus Kenworthy, 140*
3. McRae Williams, 79
4. Quinn Wolferman, 79
5. Alex Hall, 57
6. Willie Borm, 50
**Has fulfilled minimum criteria (two podium finishes)
*Has one podium finish

Women’s Halfpipe

The reigning Olympic champion, Maddie Bowman, has fulfilled the objective criteria and is bound for Pyeongchang, where she’ll look to defend her crown. She’ll have stiff competition from Canadian Cassie Sharpe, however, who is widely regarded as the frontrunner heading into the Games, thanks some some impressive wins amid the qualifying events.

U.S. skiers Devin Logan (a “double-threat” who, as aforementioned, is also gunning for a spot on the slopestyle team) and Brita Sigourney each have one podium finish and will look to fulfill objective criteria this weekend.

Brita Sigourney, all smiles after earning a podium finish last week in Snowmass, Colorado.

Points standings after 4 of 5 qualifying events:

1. Maddie Bowman, 140** (Qualified for Pyeongchang)
2. Devin Logan, 130*
3. Brita Sigourney, 130*
4. Annalisa Drew, 95
5. Carly Margulies, 72
**Has fulfilled minimum criteria (two podium finishes)
*Has one podium finish

Mens’ Halfpipe

The U.S. Team’s depth in the halfpipe is perhaps comparable to the Mariana Trench; i.e. it’s very, very deep. U.S. skiers swept the podium last week in Snowmass, setting the stage for what will surely be a grueling contest at Mammoth.

Similarly to the case of Maddie Bowman, the 2014 Olympic halfpipe champ, David Wise, has punched his ticket to South Korea where he’ll look to defend his title.

David Wise will head to South Korea hungry for his second Olympic gold medal.

Chasing Wise are skiers including Torin Yater-Wallace, Gus Kenworthy (another “double threat”), Taylor Seaton, Aaron Blunck and Alex Ferreira; Ferreira and Blunck have both fulfilled the objective criteria. Top-level talent from around the world including Kevin Rolland (FRA), Noah Bowman (CAN) and Mike Riddle (CAN) are sitting out the competition in California this weekend, bolstering chances of U.S. success.

The possible scenarios this weekend are plentiful, as pertaining to the men’s Olympic halfpipe team: Ferreira will earn a spot on the squad with a second place finish or better; Blunck or Yater-Wallace will be bound for Pyeongchang with a win; Kenworthy and Seaton may also qualify with a first place showing, but this would hinge on Yater-Wallace’s results. As a reminder, a fourth spot will be granted via coaches’ discretion, so those who do not meet the objective criteria won’t be counted out, just yet.

Points standings after 4 of 5 qualifying events:

1. David Wise, 200** (Qualified for Pyeongchang)
2. Alex Ferreira, 180**
3. Torin Yater-Wallace, 150*
4. Aaron Blunck, 140**
5. Gus Kenworthy, 116*
6. Taylor Seaton, 92*
**Has fulfilled minimum criteria (two podium finishes)
*Has one podium finish

The Grand Prix at Mammoth

Competition program:

Wednesday, Jan 17 – Halfpipe qualifications
Thursday, Jan 18 – Ladies’ slopestyle qualifications
Friday, Jan 19 – Men’s slopestyle qualifications & halfpipe finals @ 18:30 (PST)
Saturday – Jan 20 – Slopestyle finals @ 09:30 (PST)
*Schedule is subject to change

U.S. Ski & Snowboard team nomination ceremony:

Jan 20 & 21 — Be a part of history. This event is open to the public, allowing fans to watch with excitement as Mammoth and the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association proudly announce the athletes representing the U.S.A in Pyeongchang. On Saturday night celebrate with the men’s and women’s snowboard slopestyle and halfpipe teams, along with the men’s and women’s freeski halfpipe teams. On Sunday, after the the final competition, the men’s freeski slopestyle team will be recognized.

On behalf of everyone at FREESKIER, best of luck to the competitors this weekend!

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